Last updated: August 4, 2021

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Letterboxes are an integral part of our everyday lives. Although letters are becoming less and less important as a means of communication nowadays, many processes still run through the traditional postal system. The letterbox is an essential part of this system, as it makes it possible to safely store deliveries in the absence of the recipient.

With our large letterbox guide, we help you find the letterbox that best suits your needs. We have compared all types of letterboxes and show you what is important for your decision. In this way, we want to support your purchase decision in the best possible way.




Summary

  • A letterbox is a storage place for mail and other deliveries in the absence of the recipient. Since a postal address is compulsory, every household must be equipped with a letterbox.
  • There are different types of letterboxes. You can choose from freestanding floor-standing letterboxes, wall-mounted letterboxes, built-in letterboxes, pass-through letterboxes and the larger parcel letterboxes.
  • The choice of a suitable letterbox should depend primarily on how much space you have available and how much mail you receive. The location should be easy to reach and accessible.

The Best Mailbox: Our Choices

Mailbox: buying and evaluation criteria

In the following, we will show you which criteria you should use to select a letterbox that meets your individual requirements. There are several aspects you should consider before deciding on a letterbox.

The criteria you can use to compare letterboxes include:

In the following, we explain the individual criteria in detail. We show you what is important when choosing a letterbox.

Size and volume

The right size is essential for a letterbox to fulfil its purpose. Both the dimensions and the size of the opening for letters must be taken into account. To ensure that there is enough space in the letterbox for letters and deliveries, the volume, i.e. the capacity, should also be taken into account.

You should adjust the size of your letterbox to how much mail you receive. For example, if you subscribe to a lot of newspapers and magazines, a larger letterbox is a good idea.

The dimensions of most regular letterboxes are 30 to 50 cm high and wide and 10 to 20 cm deep. According to these dimensions, the respective volume is larger or smaller. The smallest size, however, is already sufficient to store envelopes and packages.

For a household with up to two people, a letterbox with a capacity of 14 to 21 litres is usually sufficient. Parcel mailboxes are an exception. These are designed to store larger parcels and are ideal if you regularly receive parcels or use the letterbox commercially.

It must be possible to insert a C4 envelope into the letterbox without any problems or damage.

In the European Union, the current DIN EN 13724 standard specifies the size of the insertion slot throughout Europe. To ensure that mail can be delivered safely, the size is based on the dimensions of a C4 envelope (229 × 324 mm). Accordingly, the insertion slot should be at least 230 mm or 325 mm wide so that the mail can be placed in it lengthwise or crosswise. According to this standard, the height is 30 to 35 mm and the letterbox should have a depth of at least 40 mm.

Type of mounting

Letterboxes are divided into various models, each of which is mounted in a different way. Safety and convenience should be taken into account when placing and mounting the letterbox.

First of all, there is the option of a free-standing letterbox. Particularly well-known are the rounded American letterboxes, which are often placed in front gardens. The letterbox can be flexibly placed by screwing it to a foundation or setting it in concrete.

Wall-mounted mailboxes are attached directly to the wall. The insertion slot and the removal door are located on the front. The popular variant is mounted on the plaster, which is why this type is also called a surface-mounted letterbox.

Mostly, wall-mounted letterboxes are fixed next to the house entrance or to a fence.

The flush-mounted letterbox, on the other hand, should be planned well in advance, as it is built into the wall of the house. These flush-mounted letterboxes are very space-saving and discreet. The insertion flap is on the front and the mail can be taken out directly in the house. These letterboxes are often installed together with bells and lighting.

Drop-in letterboxes are either built into the front door or the wall of the house. They simply have a flap through which letters and parcels can be thrown directly into the house. It is therefore not a box in the conventional sense.

In most cases, parcel post boxes are a variation of free-standing letterboxes. However, since they have to have a much larger capacity, they take up much more space. If there is sufficient space, they can be placed indoors, just like the free-standing or wall-mounted letterboxes.

Security

According to the EU-wide binding DIN EN 13724 standard, a lockable letterbox is recommended. Most letterboxes are therefore lockable with a key or otherwise secured.

One exception is the American letterbox. These models stand out directly in Germany, but they are usually not lockable.

With regard to the different types of letterboxes, as described under the types of installation, there are no security concerns about any of the models listed if they are installed properly. One factor to consider, however, is the material.

Cast iron or stainless steel mailboxes often not only offer better protection against unauthorised access, but are also more weatherproof. However, even among the best models, rainwater or moisture may penetrate the box.

Material

The materials used for letterboxes differ greatly from one model to the next. Built-in and pass-through letterboxes usually have a steel flap that is built into the front door or the wall of the house.

Freestanding mailboxes, wall-mounted mailboxes or parcel mailboxes, on the other hand, offer a wider choice. These types of mailboxes are usually relatively exposed to the elements, so you should consider which material will most effectively protect your mail from the weather.

One of the sturdiest materials you can choose is cast iron.

These can hardly be damaged by environmental influences, but they are very heavy. More popular are letterboxes made of stainless steel. They are visually appealing, resistant and cannot rust. They are also the cheaper option.

Letterboxes made of plastic are also very weather-resistant. The material is very versatile. You can choose from different colours and shapes. Letterboxes made of wood are also eye-catchers. However, they are only weatherproof if they are regularly impregnated. This means that some work is involved with this variant.

Additional equipment

In addition to the different types of letterboxes, you can choose from a range of additional features and customisations. This can range from an individual colour of the housing to a highly technical variant with camera and bell.

One of the most common extras is the newspaper compartment. This comes in handy if you subscribe to one or more newspapers or magazines. The additional compartment, which is located below the actual box, leaves more space for letters and documents that are better kept in the lockable part of the letterbox.

Mailboxes that fulfil several functions are becoming increasingly popular

If your letterbox does not already have a lock, we recommend that you add a robust lock. Viewing windows in the box make it easier to see if there is mail in the box. Letterboxes in the so-called retro or vintage style are also very popular. These letterboxes are visually particularly appealing and stylish. Country-style letterboxes in particular are one of the most popular models. Ultimately, however, all of this is a matter of personal taste.

Rubber seals protect the contents of the letterbox from moisture and rain. It should be noted, however, that even the highest quality models cannot guarantee complete protection against environmental influences. Rubber padding can additionally be placed under the access flap to reduce noise.

Most letterboxes already have a nameplate and this is an integral part of the box. If necessary, however, you can easily create one yourself. With some materials, you can also have the letterbox engraved. Although this is somewhat expensive, it looks elegant and is very durable.

So-called pillars are high-quality letterboxes. They are often used for companies and are rather unusual for private use. The letterboxes are connected to a bell and intercom system, lighting and often even a video system.

Mailboxes: Frequently asked questions and answers

In the following guide, we answer the most important questions about letterboxes. We provide you with a comprehensive overview of all important information and background information on letterboxes.

What is a mailbox and what can I use it for?

Letterboxes are used in public spaces as well as in private homes. While public letterboxes are used by postal companies to deliver mail, private letterboxes or house letterboxes are used to receive mail.

A letterbox is installed outside the living space so that delivery staff and postal workers can deliver letters, parcels or newspapers in the absence of the recipient.

The purpose of a letterbox is the safe temporary storage of mail until the recipient takes it out of the letterbox. The mail is thus not only protected from theft and prying eyes, but also from all weather conditions.

Letterboxes usually have nameplates so that mail can be clearly delivered to the respective recipients. They also come in a variety of sizes, materials and colours. Therefore, a letterbox can easily be adapted to personal needs.

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Letterboxes come in all kinds of shapes and colours. In apartment buildings, you often find larger letterboxes.
(Image source: Denisse Leon / unsplash)

The size of letterboxes is standardised in the European Union so that common envelope formats can be delivered without any problems. Ideally, letterboxes should be easily accessible on properties.

What types of mailboxes are there?

Since different types of letterboxes all have the same function, the main distinction is how different models are mounted on the house or on the property.

Basically, a distinction is made between wall-mounted letterboxes, floor-standing letterboxes, built-in letterboxes, pass-through letterboxes, parcel letterboxes and letterbox systems. In the following table, we have clearly presented the special features and differences for you:

Type Description
Stand mailbox These mailboxes can be placed flexibly at any location and they look particularly representative. Often, however, a little more space is needed for this variant, as they are comparatively large. The frame is set in concrete or screwed into the ground.
Wall-mounted letterboxes Wall-mounted letterboxes are one of the most popular variants because they can be retrofitted very easily. All that is needed is a house wall or fence. There is also a large selection, so you can choose an individual model at an often low price.
Built-in letterbox For this type of letterbox, a wall niche is required, which is why it is very difficult to retrofit such a letterbox. However, they are very elegant and often come with additional features such as a bell, lighting or an intercom system.
Pass-through letterbox here, a flap is installed in or next to the front door and the delivered mail falls through the flap onto the floor in the living space. This variant can also be a space-saving but cheaper alternative to the built-in letterbox.
Parcel letterbox Only this type of letterbox also enables the delivery of parcels. Parcel letterboxes are floor-standing letterboxes, but they take up considerably more space. It can therefore be placed flexibly, but care must still be taken to ensure that there is enough space.
Letterbox system Letterbox systems are usually found in apartment buildings with several parties. They are usually wall-mounted or free-standing letterboxes that correspond to the number of households. In commercial use, the systems include additional technology such as bells and cameras.

The type of letterbox that is right for you depends on several individual factors. Before buying, you should think about how much space you have available, how much capacity you need in the letterbox for your mail and how the letterbox fits in with the style of the house or your personal taste.

Furthermore, you should make sure that you choose a secure letterbox, which should at least be lockable. Ultimately, however, all of the types of letterboxes presented here fulfil their purpose: mail items are stored securely.

What does a mailbox cost?

The cost of a letterbox depends entirely on your own quality requirements. In addition, the price range varies depending on the model and type of letterbox.

Wall-mounted mailboxes, which are attached to the outside of a wall or fence, are a common and popular choice. In most cases, they are also characterised by a comparatively low price.

Type Price range
Wall-mounted letterbox approx. 20-150€
Floor-standing letterbox approx. 50-500€
Built-in letterbox approx. 150-300€
Pass-through letterbox approx. 150-300€
Parcel letterbox approx. 150-500€
Letterbox system approx.100-600€

The price range extends from individual models under €20 to high-quality models up to €150. On average, most wall-mounted letterboxes are in the €30-60 range.

Free-standing pillar mailboxes include the pillar elements in addition to the actual mailbox. On average, they are somewhat more expensive. Inexpensive models can be purchased for around 50 euros, while more expensive mailboxes can cost several hundred euros. Often, however, mailboxes for several households are already attached to the same frame.

Mailboxes that are bricked into the wall or where the mail is thrown directly into the living space through a flap are on average the most expensive. You should expect prices from 150 to 300 euros. In addition, you may have to pay for craftsmen or installation costs.

Parcel mailboxes and mailbox systems are significantly more expensive than the mailboxes described above. As these types of letterboxes have to be particularly robust, stable and secure, they cost several hundred euros.

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Parcel mailboxes are often a little more expensive, but save you a trip to the nearest post office if you were unable to receive a parcel.
(Image source: Maarten van den Heuvel / unsplash)

Parcel mailboxes usually cost around 300 euros. Prices vary more for letterboxes for several households. The price depends very much on the quality and the number of letterboxes available. There are models for less than 100 euros, but you can usually expect prices between 100 and 300 euros.

What alternatives are there to a mailbox?

There are no real alternatives to a letterbox on the market. However, it is possible to build your own letterbox. However, this requires craftsmanship so that the delivered mail is just as safe in the self-built letterbox.

Many companies set up an additional post box.

Another option is to have mail delivered to a post office box at a nearby post office.

Your mail is deposited in a locker so that you can collect it from the respective branch. You have to pay an annual fee for the post box.

The P.O. box offers additional storage space for your mail, but it does not replace your own letterbox with a compulsory, regular postal address. A P.O. box is therefore more of a supplement to a regular mailbox than an alternative. However, it is a good option if you receive a lot of mail. Many companies also use this option.

Where should I place my mailbox?

The location of a letterbox is of great importance. If some factors are not taken into account when installing it, in the worst case it can lead to letters, bills or parcels not being reliably delivered.

Depending on the model, the letterbox should be placed on the house wall next to the entrance door or at least in the entrance area so that the letterboxes can be clearly assigned to the owners.

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As a matter of principle, letterboxes should not only be easily and conveniently accessible for the owner, but above all for postmen and other deliverers.
(Image source: Davide Baraldi / unsplash)

Alternatively, a letterbox can also be placed at the property boundary. This makes work easier for postmen, especially if the entrance to the house cannot be found directly. Letterboxes for larger apartment buildings can also be placed in the hallway if there is enough space.

The mail slot should be at a convenient height for the mailman and for his own comfort. A minimum height of 70 cm to a maximum of 170 cm above the floor is recommended.

In addition to accessibility, the weather is another factor. Ideally, a letterbox should be covered or otherwise protected from wind, rain or moisture. Since letterboxes are usually not one hundred percent particularly protected from moisture, this should be considered.

Are mailboxes weatherproof?

There is no general answer to this question, as the following also applies here: it depends on the type of letterbox, the model and the workmanship or quality.

If you want to be on the safe side, built-in or pass-through letterboxes offer the safest solution. The delivered mail in this type of letterbox is located inside the house. The slot is covered by a flap. This makes it practically impossible for rain and damp to soak your letters.

Higher-quality letterboxes in particular are usually very robust

Wall-mounted and floor-standing letterboxes are more exposed to the elements. It should be noted here that even higher-quality models are not always completely waterproof. In this case, a rubber seal is helpful and, of course, the material of the letterbox should be considered beforehand.

While letterboxes made of stainless steel, plastic or cast iron are relatively easy to care for in terms of wear and tear caused by the weather, the wooden variant is the most susceptible. They should be regularly impregnated and painted to ensure the best possible protection.

Who has to pay for the letterbox in a rented flat?

Letterboxes count as part of a rented flat, so the landlord must pay for a letterbox if it is not already there. Landlords can also be held liable if a letterbox does not comply with the European Union's DIN EN 13724 standard.

If mail cannot be delivered because of a defective letterbox or if it leaks and is difficult to open, tenants are entitled to a one percent reduction in rent.

As a tenant, you are only obliged to put a nameplate on the letterbox.

Thus, landlords are fully responsible for the tenant's letterbox. They bear the costs for the letterbox itself, its installation and also for any repairs. All these services may not be charged to the tenant.

Conclusion

Since having one's own letterbox is binding due to the obligation to register residents, it is an everyday object that is universally of great importance. Letterboxes offer an optimal solution for the temporary protection of mail that is sometimes confidential. In the letterbox, all deliveries are protected from the weather, theft and unauthorised access.

The choice of a letterbox is very individual. You can choose from a wide variety of types, models, colours and materials in all price ranges. Above all, you should consider the size and location of the letterbox. Mailboxes fulfil their function best when they are optimally adapted to your ideas.

Image source: serezniy/ 123rf

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